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Die Hard Christmas Tree – Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

This Die Hard Christmas tree will have even John McClane and Hans Gruber saying “Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!”

Lots of custom DIY decorations were made, including an “air duct” tree topper, festive character ornaments, movie quote signs, crisscrossed chain garland, and more!

Because…Die Hard IS a Christmas movie.

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

Die Hard Christmas Tree – Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

When your husband comes to you and says his company needs help with a holiday project, you first roll your eyes because UGH, you already have so much to do!

But when he says it entails decorating a Christmas tree for a fun local holiday event that your family attends every year AND that you will have complete freedom, you get kinda excited and actually agree to it.

That’s what happened here and how this Die Hard Christmas tree came to be.

It was fun and challenging to turn a classic adult action movie full of violence, profanity, and, ahem, other mature content into a festive family-friendly Christmas tree.

And it turned out SO FREAKING AMAZING!

What Is the Tinsel Trail?

The fun local holiday event that I referenced above is called the Tinsel Trail.

It’s located in Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville, Alabama and it is SO COOL.

I love me a good holiday event to take the kids to, and all the better that it’s FREE and open to the community from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Hundreds of trees are decorated each year by businesses, organizations, or individuals, and it’s become an annual tradition for our family to casually stroll through the park while admiring all the pretty creations.

The trees are often decorated to the nines in traditional festive fare, and other times folks GO ALL OUT with a unique creative theme.

Classic holiday movies are always represented, and sometimes a business or organization will decorate a tree in their respective field or niche.

One year, for instance, a radiology clinic covered their tree in faux skeletons and bones instead of usual ornaments and ribbon.

So clever, indeed.

My husband’s company decided to sponsor a tree this year and his boss, knowing I’m a crafty gal who loves all things DIY, asked if I would like to take on this jolly task for the team.

The best part was that I was given COMPLETE CREATIVE CONTROL. *insert hair pump emoji*

And the fact that all the supplies would be on the company’s dime didn’t hurt either.

Why a Die Hard Tree, Though?

A Die Hard-theme was chosen for our Tinsel Trail Christmas tree for four main reasons:

  1. We like the movie and watch it every Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed.
  2. It would match the personality of Matt’s coworkers and company:
    1. Hard-working, determined, and edgy but with a sense of humor…not the whole German terrorists thing.
  3. As far as we can remember, this theme has not been represented at the Tinsel Trail yet, and if you ain’t first, you’re last…errrr, sorry, wrong movie.
  4. There is some debate as to whether Die Hard actually can be called a Christmas movie, so we wanted to prove once and for all that, yes, DIE HARD IS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE.

Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie??

So what say you?

Are you Team Die Hard Is a Christmas Movie?

Or are you wrong?



Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this matter, buuuut the movie literally takes place AT A CHRISTMAS PARTY ON CHRISTMAS EVE.


Plus, *spoiler alert*, lovers are reunited and the good guys win.

If that’s not feel-good and Christmasy enough, nothing is.

Prepping the Tinsel Trail Christmas Tree

Planning for and decorating this Die Hard Christmas tree for the Tinsel Trail was unlike any other project I’ve ever done.

This festive creation was unique because it needed to:

  • Be true to the film so people would get the movie references
  • Remain family-friendly
  • Amp up the holiday spirit
  • Be weather-proof and able to withstand the outdoor elements for six weeks
  • Have some flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants since we weren’t really sure of the scale and what size the decorative elements needed to be due to not seeing our actual tree until Decorating Day
  • Not cost a fortune
  • Require some engineering…and neither myself nor my husband are engineers

So yeah, not challenging at all!

Luckily, we had plenty of time to prepare our creation:

  • August: the tree was reserved and the brainstorming began
  • October: exact plans were narrowed down and supply acquisition started
  • Early- to mid-November: decorative elements were DIYed
  • Saturday before Thanksgiving: Decorating Day!

Decorating the Die Hard Christmas Tree

In order to keep this post from being as long as Nakatomi Tower was tall, I’ll be sharing separate posts soon detailing how all of the DIY elements of this Die Hard Christmas tree were made.

So be like Argyle in his limo and bear with me!

Here, I’ll give a general decorating run-down sans the full-blown tutorials.

Yippee Ki Yay, jolly readers!


Here’s how the tree looked when we first arrived at the Tinsel Trail on Decorating Day:

Bare Christmas tree waiting to be decorated at the Tinsel Trail.

Luckily, we had a cute little elf who was more than happy to help us remove all the dead leaves from the tree so we could start decorating.


The first task for decorating a Christmas tree is of course adding all the lights.

Matt took care of this task because, as Ellis would say, it’s honestly the worst part of the holidays, amiright?

We used two strands each of red and white lights as a nod to the movie poster’s color scheme.

Adding Christmas lights to the tree at the Tinsel Trail.


Next up, it was time to attach and finish assembling the tree topper.

This part is of course the big WOW showstopper for most Christmas trees, so we chose to recreate the classic air duct scene, with John McClane turned Santa.

I grabbed a plastic bin from Target that we then spray-painted metallic chrome, and it was attached to the tree using a broom handle and zip ties.

MacGyver himself would be so proud!

The sign up top was made from glitter card stock that I cut with my beloved Silhouette Cameo.

After the letters and background were lightly glued together, it was laminated, then attached to the bin using some paint stir sticks, small wooden blocks, and screws (check out the upcoming tutorial for all the details).

The crawling John was printed out on two sheets of photo paper, then laminated and glued together.

I Frankensteined a Santa hat to make it fit on his small flat head, then he was attached to the bin using some floral wire.

Matt’s boss and Army BFF, Jason, helped us with the decorating, and we put his height to good use for this step.

Adding the tree topper to the Die Hard Christmas tree at the Tinsel Trail.


Once the tree topper was assembled and secured to the tree, I got to adding the garland.

Six strands of red deco mesh were crisscrossed and attached using some snowball-looking tinsel ties to give it a unique look.

I’ve previously shared a post on how to crisscross ribbon on a Christmas tree, so make sure you check that out for all the details on this simple decorating idea!

Crisscrossing deco mesh garland on the Die Hard Christmas tree.

The deco mesh was nice and festive, but it needed a little edginess.

That was easily accomplished by wrapping some faux Halloween chains around each strand.

This was a nod to the movie scene where John not-so-nicely suggests to Karl that he (and his beautiful blond hair) need to hang out for a bit…or forever.

Adding chains to the crisscrossed deco mesh garland.


Once that step was finished, it was finally time to add the really fun decorations and bring home the Die Hard theme: the signs and ornaments!

The main sign on the tree (aside from the one above the tree topper) proudly showcased the iconic phrase that John McClane dismissively says to his terrorist/bank robber nemesis, Hans Gruber.

I of course had to make it PG, so it was edited to include a simple holiday greeting instead of John’s famous phrase.

And I know you’re saying the real version in your head right now. *fist bump*

This sign was made using an old wooden board, which was spray painted white and had vinyl letters and stripes added that I also cut out with my Silhouette Cameo.

Die Hard Christmas tree sign that says Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!


To reference another classic scene from the movie, I just miniaturized an iconic prop.

I again used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the phrase, this time in some glittery red heat transfer vinyl (since Tony’s blood was out of stock), then applied it to the back of a size 3-month gray sweatshirt.

SO small and SO festively adorable as a perfect Die Hard Christmas ornament.

Die Hard Christmas tree ornament that is a small gray sweatshirt that reads Now I Have a Machine Gun. Ho-Ho-Ho.


Like any classic movie, Die Hard has its fair share of iconic quotes that just had to make their appearance on this Christmas tree.

I turned some cheap and adorably tiny blackboard easels into the cutest little framed signs.

A little outdoor red paint and some vinyl brought these signs to life.

You’ll notice three of these signs are not actually quotes from the movie, but still worked perfectly for this Christmas tree:

  • Nice List
  • Naughty List (this one is obviously much longer)
  • Faux invitation to the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party, which was where the movie takes place
Die Hard movie quotes as ornaments on a Die Hard Christmas tree at the Tinsel Trail.


We of course needed to include some of the characters on this Die Hard Christmas tree, and since John was featured up in the tree topper, six of his friends and foes were turned into festive ornaments.

Using my iPad, I quickly doodled on some holiday accessories with my Apple Pencil, then printed each character out on photo paper, cut them out, punched a hole, and ran each through a laminator.

My favorite is Hans “Peppermint” Gruber, known for his classic holiday hit, “All I Want for Christmas is $640 Million in Negotiable Bearer Bonds.”


We also included a few other fun non-DIY ornaments that referenced the movie as well.

One was a mini stuffed teddy bear with a giant red bow that John is bringing to his surprise reunion with Holly and then gets passed off to Argyle while he waits in his limo.

Another was a toy police vehicle because obviously.

The third was a Crunch bar that true fans will recognize, and others will say “Oh, so THAT’S why it was an ornament!” when they watch the movie again.

We had hoped to also include a two-pack of Twinkies in honor of Sgt. Al, but all of our local gas stations and stores were out of stock. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


The last of the decorations was simply hanging traditional Christmas ornaments and fun sparkly picks as fillers.

We had plenty of ornaments to donate to the cause, especially basic red, black, and peppermint-esque ones, since I have a slight obsession with making ornament wreaths.

The Decorated Die Hard Christmas Tree!

And here is how our fully decorated Die Hard Christmas tree looks!

It turned out SO great!

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

Both while we were decorating and afterwards when visiting the Tinsel Trail, we heard so many people comment on how awesome the tree looks, and they especially agree that Die Hard IS a Christmas movie.

Tell that to Takagi.

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

The final touch was adding a couple signs for my husband’s company as well as a cute little one for this blog here.

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas! Tinsel Trail decorated tree.

This makes me seem much fancier and more professional than I really am.

Where The Smiles Have Been sign with contact info and QR code.

You can see the back of the tree when walking along the sidewalk that’s across the stream at the park, so it’s decorated and cute too, albeit without the Die Hardness.

Back of Die Hard Christmas tree at the Tinsel Trail.
Tinsel Trail in the daylight.

Here’s how our Die Hard Christmas tree and all the other amazing trees look at night all aglow at the Tinsel Trail!

And I am happy to report that these photos were taken a couple days after Decorating Day, and the tree survived its first heavy rainfall.

So our battle against the elements is victorious so far!

Except for those pesky dead leaves that keep falling off the adjacent tree and covering up our Crunch bar ornament…

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!
Die Hard Christmas Tree at the Tinsel Trail!
Die Hard Christmas Tree at the Tinsel Trail!

Santa John looks SO GREAT all back-lit in his faux air duct, too.

And we taped up a single white light behind John’s lighter to really bring the movie scene to life.

It’s all about the little touches, y’all.

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

All the Christmasy details add a touch of whimsy to this classic R-rated adult film.

It was a lot of fun to create, and I hope visitors to the Tinsel Trail find it just as enjoyable to look at.

Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

Fingers crossed it survives the elements and makes it to January!

Die Hard Christmas Tree at the Tinsel Trail by JS Solutions and Where The Smiles Have Been.
Die Hard Christmas Tree - Yippee Ki Yay, Merry Christmas!

If You Enjoyed This…

Make sure you check out my Project Gallery for all of my other crafty creations, easy home improvement projects, freebies, and more holiday fun, like these festive ideas!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Wishing you and yours a very Die Hard Christmas!

Where The Smiles Have Been | Crafts. DIY. Home. Mom Life.